The DIY Guide To Wooden Wall Panelling Using MDF
wood wall panelling


Written by Maddie

Learn how to replicate wooden wall panelling with mdf in your home. Clever tips and tricks to transform any room with mdf wood panelling. 

We’re often asked questions about wooden wall panelling, from wooden wall panel design ideas through to installation. So we’ve decided to put together as much information as possible on the wooden wall panelling trend and how you can recreate it at home. Let’s get started.


Wood Wall Paneling What Is It?

Wooden Wall Panelling is a technique by which interior walls are decorated via the application of wooden wall panels. This decorative wall technique has been around for hundreds of years but is now experiencing a modern revival. Wooden panelling was once used to provide much needed insulation in homes that were built from stone, but now it’s more of a contemporary flourish – bringing charm and character to every room it’s installed in. Traditionally wooden wall panels were carved from wood, some were adorned with ornate carvings but mostly they were fitted as large panels. Nowadays, wooden wall panelling is often confused with mdf wall panelling. The difference? The material used. Wall panels made from wood are often used to revive period homes and heritage sites, whereas mdf wall panelling has the same aesthetic as wooden wall panels but is considerably cheaper and easier to fit. 

Jacobean Wooden Wall Panelling via Vincent Reed

Is There A Technical Term For Wooden Wall Panelling?

Yes. It’s Wooden Wall Panelling. The name is simply an indication of the material that’s being used. The technical terms normally apply to the pattern of panelling as opposed to the material. 

How Do I Know If Wooden Wall Panelling Is Right For Me?

People often get mdf and wooden wall panelling mixed up. Because mdf is a derivative of wood, it typically gets lumped in with it. Although the patterns are similar, there are some distinct differences between them. 

Can I Panel Any Room With Wooden Wall Panelling

Yes you can! Wooden wall panelling can be installed on any interior wall in whichever room you please. Keep in mind that when recreating wooden wall panelling with mdf, you will need to use moisture resistant mdf in rooms with high levels of humidity such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Jacobean teal wall panelling from Houzz

What’s The Difference Between Wooden Wall Panelling And MDF Wall Panelling?

Wooden wall panelling is the original version, however it’s actually quite a dated interior design technique and moreover a costly one too. Which isn’t ideal if you’re thinking of giving your home a makeover but are somewhat restricted by your budget.

Traditional wooden wall panelling from UK Home Interiors

If that is the case, there is a solution – MDF wall panelling is a modern and cheaper alternative which still offers a wood panel effect. Plus, you can paint it with ease and whichever shade you pick will truly pop. 

When it comes to wall panelling your budget is important. Wooden wall panelling is most definitely the more expensive option, as you can imagine buying a slab of oak, cherry or mahogany doesn’t come cheap. Then on top of this cost you will have to pay for installation, wooden wall panelling needs to be fitted by experts. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, MDF can be used to mimic wooden wall panels. Plus, it’s sturdy, hardwearing and will stand the test of time – especially in high-traffic areas such as hallways.

Once your MDF wall panels are primed and painted – you really can’t distinguish between it and it’s wooden counterparts. Furthermore, MDF is an absolute dream to paint (no sanding either). 

Jacobean Style Wall Panelling From Ideal Home
Jacobean Style Wall Panelling From Ideal Home

Which Is Better Wooden Wall Panelling Or MDF Wall Panelling?

In comparison to wooden wall panels, MDF wall panels are way more affordable per metre, which is quite important if you’re looking to transform your home on a tight budget. Both materials have their merits, but why pay more when you can achieve the same wood effect aesthetic and quality with MDF? With current timber shortages the price of hardwood timber has increased dramatically. That’s not to say that MDF hasn’t increased because it has but in the grand scheme of things – it’s way cheaper. Ultimately it comes down to the style you are trying to achieve, if you want your home to resemble Windsor castle – wooden wall panelling is for you. If you are looking to transform your home with contemporary design – mdf wall panelling is just what you need.

How much does wooden wall panelling cost?

It’s hard to say without knowing the exact space of the area you’re panelling but typically for solid oak panels it’s usually around £300 to £400 per square metre, this doesn’t include the installation which is usually quite expensive. With MDF wall panelling being the more cost effective solution you can expect to pay around £20 – £50 per square metre, but you will need to pay for adhesive, primer and paint on top of this price. Whichever option you choose, always ensure you buy from a reputable supplier, check their reviews and discuss the best options for your interior walls. 

How You Can Recreate Wooden Wall Panelling With MDF

Replicating wooden wall panelling with MDF is super easy. Sheets of MDF can be cut into strips to recreate your favourite wooden wall panel styles – or you can buy an mdf wall panelling kit online and save heaps of time. First things first, you need to pick a style to recreate. We’ve included the most popular styles below. 

Wooden Wall Panelling Styles

Because wooden wall panelling dates back hundreds of years, there are an abundance of different styles and patterns to choose from. The most popular styles are: Tongue & Groove, Shaker and Jacobean/ Tudor wall panels. You can of course recreate other wall panel trends such as Geometric, Chevron and Herringbone – but if you’re looking for the traditional style we would recommend the following three wall panelling designs:

Tongue & Groove wall panels 

Victorian walls are becoming increasingly popular, when we refer to Victorian wall panelling it’s often the Tongue & Groove mdf strips that we are referring to. Of course there were other wall panel designs that were prominent in this era but it’s renowned for this particular style. 

This type of wood panelling for walls is usually made up of 100mm – 120mm  wide strips of mdf. These are then placed alongside each other vertically across the wall. Most commonly they are fixed up the lower portion of the wall and topped off with a dado rail, however they can cover the wall from floor to ceiling. These wood panelling for walls can be installed in any room you please and add personality and charm to any wall. 

Tongue & Groove Wall Panelling
Tongue & Groove Wall Panelling

Shaker Wall Panelling

We don’t think Shaker wall panels will ever go out of trend. The simplicity of this style complements any interior wall, it’s extremely versatile and can give both a classic feel or a contemporary look depending on the paint scheme you’re using. Shaker and Tudor wall panelling are often confused, Shaker can be identified by the rectangular spacing and Tudor by the squares. However both mdf wall panelling styles can be achieved by using a kit, you’d just need to amend some of the strips to reduce the spacing to create squares instead of rectangles. 

Shaker style wall panelling via Etsy

Jacobean / Tudor Wall Panelling

Tudor wall panelling is often confused with Shaker panelling, although similar they do have a distinct difference – the shape of the panel space. Tudor panelling is distinguished by the square spacing in between the panels – it resembles a chessboard. Whereas shaker wall panels have rectangular spacing. We aren’t really sure where the confusion stems from but it’s an easy mistake to make.  

Tudor Panelling
Jacobean panelling from These Three Rooms

Ultimately it isn’t hard to achieve a wooden wall panel effect with MDF, it’s easy to install and can be tailored to suit the required style you want to replicate. If you’re stuck for wall panelling ideas – we have heaps.

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